Communication is key to any relationship. It’s how we connect, we share, and learn. That is why prayer is so important. It is the foundation of our faith because it builds our personal relationship with Jesus. Because its such an essential part to growing with God, the next series will discuss three principles of prayer.
1 Prayer is Personal
2 Prayer is Powerful
3 Prayer is Persistant
Prayer is Personal
Prayer is not meant to be an academic endeavor. It is not reciting memorized verses. We don’t repeat the same phrase to our friends when we converse with them. We talk openly, plainly, and emotionally.
To understand the personal nature of prayer we can look at Elijah. In 1 King 19:4 we see Elijah mourning under a broom tree, and this begins his depressed conversation with God. In context of the situation Elijah should be celebrating. In a battle of faith between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Elijah called upon God who rained down fire from heaven, and Elijah struck down hundreds of false prophets. But after the triumph he is still pursued by Jezebel who wants to persecute him. So he steals a way to a broom tree and laments his life. However God sends an Angel of the Lord to tend to him, to help him recover. After providing for Elijah, the Lord calls him continue his journey. On the mount of God in a cave Elijah lays bare his discontent before the Lord.
14 [Elijah] said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
– 1 King 19:14-19
This is not a singular praise into a void. This is painful conversation between Elijah and God. Elijah calls out to God, and God responds. This is real talk. This is rough and emotional. Elijah is rebuked for doubting the omnipotence of God, but God also loves on him – he corrects Elijah, then encourages him to press on his ministry. When Elijah thought the evil of Jezebel had overcome the people of God and he was the only voice left – God let him know the next steps to take, and that he had 7,000 people in Israel he would raise up to serve Him.
Don’t hold back from God. Give him praise for joy, and bring him your pain for healing. God will love us, comfort us, and encourage us. When we shout out in our pain “and I, only, am left” remember God is there with us and he will support us as we lean on him, providing for our needs, and calling others to support His plan and encourage us in our journey.
In the New Testament Jesus gave us a model for our prayers in the Lord’s Prayer. It is a framework for HOW to pray, but was not intended to be the WHAT we pray.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
– Matthew 6:6-13
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
- We give praise to God. We acknowledge He is with us and listening, we call out to our Father, and we recognize his identity as Lord of all.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
- We pray for his will. We seek to know his will, and even more the strength and courage to live out his will.
Give us this day our daily bread
- What are the needs we are placing at the Feet of God? Are you leaning on him, or on your own ability?
and forgive us our debts,
- We ask for forgiveness. We must admit our sins and repent. We acknowledge our own weaknesses and our needs for God’s grace and mercy.
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
- We recognize that we must forgive those who have wronged us. Not in a general pass over, but in a specific recognition of those who have hurt us, showing our weakness, asking for healing, both for ourselves and those who have harmed us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
- Deliver us from evil. We know there is evil in the World. Spiritual warfare tries to separate us from His will as well as the body of the church. Satan wants us to injured, angry, and alone.
In the Old and New Testament we see prayer as a means to talk with God. It is a two-way conversation. We speak, and He listens. Do you give the Lord time to speak into your life? Do you listen? And finally, do you obey? In prayer we open ourselves to God, we are honest and vulnerable. We get to know our heavenly Father deeper and more completely.